Without semesters or terms, how is Federal Student Aid (FSA) awarded?
Kim Murphy| March 29, 2012
How is Federal Student Aid awarded at nonterm institutions?
Many students compare their experience with Federal Student Aid (FSA) at other schools to their experience at University of Phoenix. This can cause confusion because FSA works a little differently at a nonterm school such as University of Phoenix. In this article, I’ll explain how these nonterm academic years and payment periods affect FSA awards and disbursements at University of Phoenix.
Types of academic calendars
The FSA program defines three types of academic calendars: standard term, nonstandard term and nonterm. All schools, including University of Phoenix, must abide by the federal regulations as dictated for each type of academic calendar.
At most traditional schools, courses begin and end within a set period of time. These programs are either standard term or nonstandard term.
At University of Phoenix, students have the flexibility to enroll continuously throughout the year, starting and stopping courses according to each individual’s schedule, not an academic calendar. For this reason, University of Phoenix is considered a nonterm school.
Awarding of FSA at a nonterm school
Every eligible program of study has a defined academic year so eligibility for FSA can be determined. The timing and amount of your FSA award are based on your academic year and payment periods.
Each academic year is generally divided into two payment periods. The first is the period in which you successfully complete half the credit hours and weeks in the academic year. The second is the period in which you successfully complete the remaining credit hours and weeks in the academic year. Successful completion means finishing the course with at least the minimum grade required to obtain credit.
At a nonterm school like University of Phoenix, the next payment period cannot begin until you successfully complete the previous one. This means no more FSA funds can be disbursed until a new payment period begins, and no new payment period can begin until you successfully complete the necessary credit hours from the prior payment period.
If you don’t have a full academic year left in your program of study, the academic year will consist of only the remaining credits. The academic year will be divided into two payment periods, as explained above. The FSA award is then prorated based on those remaining credits.
The basic idea behind proration is receiving FSA only for credits enrolled. As an example, if 24 credit hours will make you eligible for 100 percent of your FSA award, then 12 credit hours will make you eligible for 50 percent.
Timing of FSA disbursements at a nonterm school
It’s important to remember that eligibility for the next FSA disbursement is also based on your attendance. FSA funds cannot be released until it is confirmed that you have attended your scheduled course(s).
Please keep in mind that dropping courses, changing your schedule or earning nonpassing grades — like W, F or I — typically extends the time it takes to complete the payment period, causing a delay in the next disbursement of FSA funds.
If you have questions, please contact your Finance Advisor. You may also contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.